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Publisher's Summary

Poppy tears, opium, heroin, fentanyl: humankind has been in thrall to the ‘Milk of Paradise’ for millennia. The latex of papaver somniferum is a bringer of sleep, of pleasurable lethargy, of relief from pain - and hugely addictive. A commodity without rival, it is renewable; easy to extract, transport and refine; and subject to an insatiable global demand. 

No other substance in the world is as simple to produce or as profitable. It is the basis of a gargantuan industry built upon a shady underworld, but ultimately it is a farm-gate material that lives many lives before it reaches the branded blister packet, the intravenous drip or the scorched and filthy spoon. Many of us will end our lives dependent on it. 

In Milk of Paradise, acclaimed cultural historian Lucy Inglis takes readers on an epic journey from ancient Mesopotamia to modern America and Afghanistan, from Sanskrit to pop, from poppy tears to smack, from morphine to today’s synthetic opiates. It is a tale of addiction, trade, crime, sex, war, literature, medicine and, above all, money. And, as this ambitious, wide-ranging and compelling account vividly shows, the history of opium is our history, and it speaks to us of who we are.

©2018 Lucy Inglis (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

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  • Overall
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-30-18

Terrible narration. Amateurishly written.

I like books like these, very much, so I was excited to see this book so highly rated.
How disappointing, it was so bad I didn’t finish it.
The narrator has no presence and can’t hold the story. Speaks too fast as though nervous and appears to disregard grammar relating to pauses like periods(.). This leaves one a little lost as to wether a whole new sentence or idea has started or if we’re still on the previous one.
The story has potential, but the author jumps around to different aspects so much and so quickly thereby giving the feeling that she is rushing her point and wants to move on to the next point ASAP. Less is more, but not in this case - it’s almost erratic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sam Tromans
  • 10-11-18

Excellent story

really enjoyed this book...if you are interested in the history of opiates i would also recommend Dreamland by Sam Quinones. both excellent histories though from quite different viewpoints.

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  • Aurifex
  • 09-19-18

Listen to the Silk Roads by Frankopan instead!

I've got about halfway through, and I'm finding it just about interesting enough to keep on listening. However, the author jumps about in time confusingly, writing about the 1720s one moment, and then jumping back several decades earlier the next. I'm finding it hard to keep track of where I am both geographically and historically.

The narrator doesn't help. She hasn't taken the trouble to find out how to pronounce any words that aren't standard English. Arden isn't how anybody should pronounce Aden (though this is corrected later in the narration). Mallorca is pronounced malorca, and often plain old polysyllabic English words get garbled. She pronounces the Chinese Qing dynasty as King dynasty, which is momentarily confusing. I'm happy to make allowances for automated voices, but constant mispronunciations like this show disrespect to the author, the content, and the listener.

I read the Economist every week, and something I appreciate enormously is that the writers never assume that their readers automatically know who or what they're talking about. For example, instead of just introducing the Pearl River without explaining where that is, or what it is, as Lucy Inglis does, if this were the Economist, she would add a brief explanation. Not to do so puts readers at a disadvantage, and may make them feel ignorant.